Of Richard Chopping’s many beautiful illustrations, paintings and book jackets, none stand out more as his work for the 1955 volume 15 edition of the yearly The Saturday Book. These books of miscellany – published from 1941 to 1975, reaching 34 volumes – provided literary and artistic commentary about life in Britain during the Second World War and the ensuing decades; notable contributors of essays to these volumes included P.G. Wodehouse, Graham Greene, Phillip Larkin and Evelyn Waugh.
The cover is one of Chopping’s finest Trompe l’oeil paintings, with many signature elements all working effortlessly together: wit; elegance; unsettling nature; exquisite detail; vibrant colour and sheer beauty. The whole scene is framed in a wooden box, which would be a precursor to his famous wooden backgrounds of the Bond novels. Botanical elements are represented by the ivy leaf and the natural world with the stunning swallow tail butterfly.
The whole book is a true work of art from front to back cover including the spine, the likes of which are few and far between.
With special thanks to Crispin Jackson
This edition of The Saturday Book is still available but typically only through used book sellers such as Biblio and Abe Books.